President Paul Biya of Cameroon over the weekend fired five Cabinet ministers and swapped the positions of two other senior officials. A government statement said the president fired the ministers of communication, public service, housing and forestry. The Sports and Physical Education Minister was also fired. The statement did not give reasons for President Biya’s action. But some Cameroonians were hoping President Biya would fire the economic affairs minister. Eugene Nforngwa is news editor for the English language Herald newspaper of Cameroon. He explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty why.
“He’s been at the center of a number of controversies, some allegations of embezzlement, inexplicable wealth that is displayed in the form of many mansions.”
Nforngwa said the minister, Polycarpe Abah Abah, who is supposed to disburse funds to various government departments, has largely crippled government action by withholding payment from the government treasury.
“People thought that he had created a lot of instability in government. Certain government departments were not functioning well, because they didn’t get their money in time. A lot of projects were suspended because money didn’t come in time,” Nforngwa said.
Although the Economic Affairs minister was viewed by many as not a good team player, still Nforngwa says President Paul Biya might have spared the minister for both professional and political reasons.
“Like I said, he’s quite an effective manager when it came to the management of public finances. The IMF and the World Bank that have been controlling Cameroon’s reforms have given quite a good appraisal of the way the budget of Cameroon has been managed over the two years…”
Nforngwa says the appointment of ministers in Cameroon is also a highly political issue. He says President Biya might have retained economic Affairs minister Abah Abah because they both come from the South Province.